Hear the sound and listen to the message

We find ourselves in the month of Elul, where, in preparation for Rosh Hashana we blow the shofar every morning. The sound of the shofar is meant to awaken our spirits from their slumber and motivate us towards improving our character and our behaviour. 

Unfortunately, like so many rituals, we look to the sounding as one of hearing the noise rather than listening to the message. 

In last week’s parsha, we are instructed that upon entering the land of Israel, we are to “uproot” all forms of idolatry. To eradicate paganism from our midst, it is insufficient to just remove the idols, we need to “uproot” the whole system. If we only trim the top of these spiritual weeds, though the garden may appear weed-free, they will inevitably grow back. Getting to the root of any dysfunction is critical if we are to affect real change. 

Similarly, with regards to our health, we focus on alleviating symptoms rather than dealing with the underlying problem. In relationships, too, we blame superficial reasons for conflict rather than having the courage to own our fears, our anxieties, and our insecurities. 

This is the slumber, that spiritual coma, that the shofar seeks to awaken us from. 

The Tekia should stir us, the shevarim should motivate us and the teruah should provoke us to change, not what we do, but rather who we are. 

Hear the sound and listen to the message. 

ABOUT THE AUTHORUntitled design-72

Rabbi Gad Krebs is the College Rabbi at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.

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